A small Chinese fishing village of 20,000 people has risen up and taken to the streets in a strong battle against China’s ruling Communist Party.
The village of Wukan in China’s southern province of Guangdong has been home to an uncharacteristically intense land dispute, which began this past September with a violent two-day protest where mobs ransacked government buildings and turned over cars.
Wukan landowners allege that that the state had been illegally seizing agricultural land belonging to local farmers and argue that they have received little to no compensation for their land that the Chinese government has sold to developers.
Farmers hold that the government has been taking their land since the 1990s but it is the increasing inflation in the country that is forcing them to fight back, as they can no longer afford to have vital land stolen from them without compensation.
The dispute deepened this week when a resident chosen to negotiate with local police over the land grievances died in police custody.
Police officials said that 43-year-old butcher Xue Jinbo died of a heart attack, but his family has contested those claims, arguing that the man’s body displayed visible signs of torture including blacked knees, broken thumbs, and bloodied nostrils.
Upon the news of Xue’s death, fuming demonstrators gathered outside the village’s city hall building arguing for justice.
“Return the body! Return our brother!,” the mobs chanted as they screamed for the “blood debt” to be paid and land to be returned.
The incident has led to an intense standoff between farmers and local officials, with the village entirely surrounded by police.
Some government officials have even fled the growing rebellion and villagers allege that police have attacked men, women and children indiscriminately in their attempt to curb the protests.
One local woman expressed her concern over the growing tension to The Telegraph.
“I have just been to see my 25-year-old son. He has been beaten to a pulp and his clothes were ripped. Please tell the government in Beijing to help us before they kill us all,” the desperate mother said.
Party officials from the region have announced that they will be holding a news conference on Thursday to address the village rebellion.